Linda Felton, PhD
What is your job and for whom do you work?
I am a professor in the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. I teach our Doctor of Pharmacy students about dosage form design, routes of delivery, and how drug products are made. I also conduct research in the area of modified release drug delivery systems and polymeric film coating technology. In addition, I develop formulations and manufacturing records for solid dosage forms for use in clinical trials.
What math skills are most helpful to you in your work?
I use basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) on a daily basis. For example, I use these math skills when grading exams and homework and in assigning final grades. In my research work, I use the same math skills to calculate, for example, quantities of chemicals needed to prepare a given batch size of a drug product or the size blender needed to mix the powders. Statistics is another set of math skills that I use on a routine basis. I determine the average grade plus standard deviation for a given exam. In terms of research, I use statistics to determine if two or more groups are different-this is fundamental to every research question.
What has helped you be successful in math?
Practice. Working through homework problems helped me learn complex math. As a graduate student, I had to take two semesters of calculus plus differential equations (math applied to chemistry systems). I would work all the homework problems assigned, whether they counted towards my grade or not. I think this is the only way to learn math. In my study group, we would change numbers and rework the problem then compare answers. Practicing like this not only helped me learn but it also gave me confidence to do well on exams.
What advice do you have for parents about math?
My advice is to be patient with your kids and encourage them to keep working on their math skills. The more they practice, the better they will get and the more confidence they will gain. Math is so fundamental to everything we do, it is important to develop these skills. I would also recommend for some basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), putting a dollar sign in front of the numbers. It will make the math more relevant and will also teach them about budgeting/financial skills.